Bik Van der Pol – Don’t Fence Me In

September 1, 2020 — July 1, 2021

Artists: Bik Van der Pol

Curator, research, coordination en realization: TAAK (Theo Tegelaers, Marlies van Hak, Charlotte Bijl) commissioned by Public Art Amsterdam

Other partners: Stadscuratorium Amsterdam, De Nederlandsche Bank


“…a new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales.”

                                              Shoshana Zuboff in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019)

In collaboration with TAAK and the association Public Art Amsterdam, artist Bik Van der Pol is developing the artistic research project Don’t Fence Me In. This work responds to the removal of a work of art by Peter Struycken from De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) in Amsterdam, which has to make way to create a more transparent appearance of the building. The fencing to which the artwork is attached would supposedly become redundant, because of the relocation of the banknotes and gold-stock from DNB to Zeist.

After the successful pilot Pay Attention Please! in 2018, the association Public Art Amsterdam asked TAAK to take the helm of upcoming projects, including Don’t Fence Me In. The current program draws attention to questions surrounding the growing demand for visibility and transparency, which increasingly determines not only the public domain but also the private sphere. In 1990, French-Antillean author, poet, and literary critic Édouard Glissant called for the right to opacity. The right to opacity is the right to not be fully known, and is therefore relevant to contemporary issues of public surveillance and data collection.

Bik Van der Pol is developing Don’t Fence Me In with support from the Mondriaan Fonds. The removal of the fencing at DNB clearly reveals the dilemma of concealment and disclosure. Institutions are expected to be transparent and open, and this applies equally to DNB, being the supervisory authority of other financial institutions and the monetary value. Peter Struyken’s artwork questioned this transparency. In this current investigation, Bik Van der Pol asks: Why does the bank want to be more ‘transparent?’ What is the strategy of transparency, and why? What is capital, and what is value? Is it gold? Or rather the algorithms that determine the course of trade, online data, visible and invisible data transfers, transactions, and transport?

Bik Van der Pol suggests mapping the removed fence digitally by creating a series of performances with the aid of the location-app what3words, starting at the repurposed office of DNB, and eventually spreading across the city. The script for these performances will be developed in collaboration with diverse groups from Amsterdam. This process calls for civic engagement and dialogue and asks how — and to whom or what —visibility is given in the public space. The live performances will be recorded. The publication of these videos, as well as a book or poster with the script and an essay, are part of the final work. This approach is typical for the artistic practice of Bik van der Pol.

Bik Van der Pol creates location-specific situations, conditions for encounters, and collective processes that are based on an equal exchange between diverse audiences. Read more about the artists.

Don't Fence Me In is made possible by the Mondriaan Fund.